The Mother Divine
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By Sadhu Om as recorded by Michael James

Sadhu Om: Why do we have desire? Once when someone asked me this question, I replied, ‘Because desire is our real nature’, and I explained this as follows:

Suppose there is a table whose surface is perfectly flat and horizontal, and onto a point at the centre of that table, water is falling drop by drop. When the first drop falls it will spread out a little to form a small circular pool, and then with each subsequent drop the pool will spread out further. If we are able to see the whole pool, we will see that what is happening is that as each drop falls in the centre of the pool it settles down, and its settling is what causes the spreading.

However, if we cannot see the whole pool but can view it only through a narrow slit, cut in a sheet of metal fixed horizontally a few inches above it, and if the slit enables us to watch a line of water from near the centre of the pool to its outer edge and beyond, what we will see is what seems to be a steady stream of water flowing in one direction. Whereas the water is actually just settling (being), our limited view of it makes it seem to us to be flowing (moving).

Likewise, when our view is limited by our rising as ego, the false awareness ‘I am this body’, love, which is our real nature, is experienced by us as a desire for things that seem to be other than ourself, namely objects of the world. Love is the priya or ānanda aspect of brahman, so it is one and indivisible, but when it shines through the prism of the mind, it is seemingly dispersed into multiple desires and all the progeny of desires, namely likes, dislikes, hopes, fears, attachments, aversion, love, hatred, greed, envy, anger and so on. That is, when we rise as ego, we see ourself, the one infinite and indivisible whole as ‘I’ and others, and consequently we experience love flowing from ‘I’ towards others in the form of desire or aversion. When we remain as we actually are, love is experienced as our being, but when we rise as ego and thereby limit ourself within the confines of a body, love is experienced as flowing in the form of desire or aversion towards other things.

Thus, the root cause of desire is our rising as ego and thereby limiting ourself to the extent of a body, as a result of which we see the appearance of others. Love takes the form of desire only when it is directed away from ourself, towards something else. Since its nature is being, true love needs no expression and does not involve any action or movement, whereas desire is expressed through action or movement, because it is always for something that seems to be other than oneself. For example, a mother expresses her love for her baby by cuddling and rocking it, because her love for it is a form of desire, being for something other than herself, but she does not express her love for her hand in such a way, because she does not experience her hand as something other than herself. Therefore, to overcome desire, aversion, fear and so on, all we need do is to eradicate ego, the false awareness that ‘I am this body’, which we can do only by investigating and finding out who am I.

Such is the greatness of Bhagawan’s teachings. Like a skilful mechanic, he has located precisely where the fault in the whole machine of life lies. All that is required is to tighten one small screw and the machine will run perfectly. The loose screw is our false awareness ‘I am this body’, and we can tighten it simply by being aware of ourself as we actually are. Since all other problems in the machine are caused by this loose screw, once it is tightened, all other problems will cease.

So long as we rise as ego, we cannot avoid having desire, because our real nature is both infinite happiness and love for such happiness, so we can never be satisfied by any means other than knowing our real nature. The driving force behind every desire is love for happiness, but happiness does not exist in any of the things that we desire but only in ourself, so desire always leads to dissatisfaction. Even when a desire is satisfied, that satisfaction is only temporary, because it is not complete and hence dissatisfaction quickly follows in its wake. Only complete satisfaction can be permanent, and complete satisfaction is only the satisfaction of self-knowledge.

Until we know ourself as we actually are, we will always be dissatisfied to a greater or lesser extent, and dissatisfaction gives rise to desire. Desire for happiness is not wrong, because it is our real nature.

Since all living beings want to be always happy without what is called misery, since for everyone the greatest love is only for oneself, and since happiness alone is the cause for love, [in order] to obtain that happiness, which is one’s own nature, which one experiences daily in [dreamless] sleep, which is devoid of mind, oneself knowing oneself is necessary. What is wrong is not our love or desire for happiness but only our seeking it in anything other than ourself, because happiness is our real nature and can therefore be found only within ourself, not in anything else. What is required, therefore, is not that we give up all desire, which we cannot do, but only that we redirect our desire away from all other things back towards ourself. The more we desire to know and to be what we actually are, the more our desires for anything else will wither and fade away.

Sadhu Om: Why is it that men are attracted to women and women are attracted to men? When a friend asked me this question, at first the only answer I could think of was the one that Bhagawan would usually have given, namely: “Why do you think you are a man? Because you mistake yourself to be a body, you feel either ‘I am a man’ or ‘I am a woman’. But is this body what you actually are? Investigate yourself and find out”.

This is the most useful and practical answer that can be given to such questions. However, since the friend who had asked this question had asked it sincerely, I felt that some further explanation would be appropriate. For a few days I could not think of any suitable explanation, because it is hard for me to imagine the attraction that most people feel. However, after about four days, a suitable explanation came to me while I was having a bath:

In every magnet there are two opposite poles, north and south. Likewise, in every jīva there are two opposite genders, male and female. However, each body that we identify as ‘I’ is generally either male or female, so if we identify a male body as ‘I’ we feel ‘I am a man’ and consequently feel attracted to female bodies, and if we identify a female body as ‘I’ we feel ‘I am a woman’ and consequently feel attracted to male bodies. That is, just as each pole of a magnet is attracted to the opposite pole of another magnet, even though both magnets contain both poles, each gender that we identify as ourself with causes us to be attracted to people of the opposite gender, even though all people contain the seeds of both genders.

As we learnt in physics class at school, if iron filings are spread evenly on a card under which a magnetic bar has been placed, the filings will form a pattern showing where the magnetic attraction is strongest, where it is weaker and where it is non-existent. It is strongest around each of the two poles, but in the exact centre between them it is non-existent. A little to either side of the centre there is a slight attraction to the nearest pole, and that attraction increases as the distance from the centre increases.

Likewise, in the centre of every jīva there is a point at which sexual attraction is non-existent. What is that centre? It is the point that is common to both men and women, namely ‘I am’. Whether we are aware of ourself as either ‘I am a man’ or ‘I am a woman’, we are all aware of ourself as ‘I am’, so ‘I am’ is devoid of gender. ‘I am’ is the centre of all that we experience, and everything else is just an adjunct and therefore peripheral. So long as we identify ourself with adjuncts, we experience pairs of opposites such as male and female, attraction and repulsion, desire and aversion, pleasure and pain. If we cling firmly to ‘I am’, on the other hand, we thereby free ourself from all such pairs.

Therefore, if we want to be free of sexual attraction and craving, all we need do is remain in the centre by clinging to ‘I am’. This is why Bhagawan teaches us: “Come to the centre. Come to the heart. Remain only as ‘I am’. Then only can you be free from sexual attraction and all other desires”.

When we remain in the centre, we are aware of nothing other than ‘I am’, but as soon as we move away from the centre even to the slightest extent, we become aware of ourself as ‘I am a man’ or ‘I am a woman’ and thus we become a prey to sexual desire. Therefore, we cannot overcome sexual attraction by any means other than remaining in the centre. If we try to forcibly overcome sexual desire by fighting against it whenever it arises, we will thereby only strengthen it, because by fighting it we are attending to it, and attention is what nourishes and sustains any desire. We can overcome it only by ignoring it, but however much we try to ignore it, it will continue rising intermittently, so the only way to ignore it permanently is by clinging firmly to ‘I am’.

Fighting against sexual desire is like cutting a magnet in two. As soon as a magnet is cut in the centre, what was the centre becomes two opposite poles. This is why celibacy is suitable only for those who are sufficiently mature. Others may struggle to be celibate, but they will be overwhelmed by powerful sexual desires. If someone who is not yet sufficiently mature tries to be celibate, it would be like forcibly plucking an unripe fruit from a tree. Such a fruit will dry up and wither away without ever ripening.

The root cause of sexual desire is the mistaken identification ‘I am a man’ or ‘I am a woman’, so the correct way to treat the disease of sexual desire is to rectify its cause, which we can do only by investigating who am I. Sexual desire is just a symptom of the disease, and we cannot cure any disease by treating only its symptoms. Only by treating its root cause can we get rid of the disease along with its symptoms. This is why Bhagawan did not recommend celibacy but only self-investigation and self-surrender.

Question: What exactly do you mean when you say that in each individual there are the two opposite poles, male and female? Do you mean that we each have the capacity to project and identify ourself as either a man or a woman?

Sadhu Om: Yes. [Then after some further discussion, Sadhu Om remarked:] This is an explanation I have given on several occasions to male friends who have asked me about this subject, but I would not normally discuss this subject in the company of ladies, because unless they are able to see me as one who is neither male nor female, they may misunderstand me and think ‘How does he know about such things?’ The truth is that whatever clarity has been given to me about any subject has been given only by Bhagawan.

Michael James assisted Sri Sadhu Om in translating Bhagawan’s Tamil writings and Guru Vācaka Kōvai. Many of his writings and translations have been published, and some of them are also available on his website, happiness of being.

Courtesy: Mountain Path